Foxconn has been around for several decades and is one of the largest manufacturers of electronics components in the world. They have provided motherboards for a multitude of OEMs in the past, but it has only been more recently that they started to offer their boards in the retail market. Given their OEM provider roots, it's not too surprising that the initial Foxconn motherboards failed to cater to the enthusiast community.

Over time, Foxconn worked to correct this perception, and they released several motherboards using their "WinFast" branding that attempted to cater to this market. Unfortunately, as we stated in previous reviews, merely saying a product has "extreme performance" does not make it so. However, their first real amends to the performance oriented crowd occurred with their excellent C51XEM2AA motherboard based on the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset in the spring of 2006. That is an eternity in the PC business and after several attempts at wooing buyers with the "CORE" series of motherboards last year they are back again with a new series; more importantly, though, they now seem to have a general understanding of the target market this time around.

Foxconn is in the process of launching their new Quantum Force product line that will focus on the enthusiast users looking for product that excels in price/performance ratios while offering the latest technology. This all sounds very familiar to most of our readers, as this is an area where competitors like abit, ASUS, DFI, Gigabyte, and MSI have been offering distinctive products for several years.



However, for Foxconn, this is truly a new experience for the company and marks (hopefully) the end of an era where words on a box were thought to make a product perform better. Also, Foxconn will be launching a specific website for the Quantum Product series shortly that will feature online product registration, access to beta BIOS downloads, forums, tutorials, and competitions designed for computer enthusiasts. Foxconn is also very interested in user feedback for these new products, and the engineers working on the products will be involved in the forums.

The first product in the Quantum Series is the Intel P35-based Foxconn MARS motherboard that will soon be followed with an X38-based product. The history buffs will already know this, but for the rest of us, MARS was best known as the Roman God of War. In early Roman history, Mars was the Roman god of spring, fertility, and vegetation while being the protector of cattle, fields, and boundaries. Mars is also considered a chthonic god (earth-god) and this helps to explain why he became a god of death and eventually the god of war. The month we know as March (Martius) is named after him and his Greek equivalent is the god Ares.

While the box art is interesting, it reminds us of two Andy Warhol inspired Spartans jousting and not the Crested Helmet MARS usually depicted in battle. But enough Roman Mythology - and yes, we left out a few details - we are here today to find out if the Foxconn MARS board represents the spirit and performance of the God of War, or if it's a better representation of the earlier God that spent his days protecting cattle. With that in mind, let's take a first look at what Foxconn has designed and will soon deliver to the performance sector.

Board Layout and Features
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  • Tujan - Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - link

    You used a 1000Watt PSU on this review. Do you think that it would be possible to post the load,and non-loaded power stats for these boards.?

    My thinking is that a person could get by with 600 watts w/o a overclocker profile. Yet I do not know. The PSU suppliers are making larger,and larger power supplies. Yet (at least for me) I do not see that my peripheral count is actually going to be larger. And w/o overclocking the CPUs actually do not require higher wattage values.As a specification at retail.

    [ ]Could a person get by on the set with this review on only changing the PSU to 600,or 750 Max PSU ?

    And what is the boards load values ? Wich boards are better.Seems that with the several layer curcuit boards the power requirement would be less,not more .[though I know the video cards are really eating the power up-they have their limit'].

    Thanks good article.Nice board Foxcon.
    Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Monday, September 24, 2007 - link

    I always enjoy motherboard reviews, BUT did I miss the long awaited P35 roundup? If it's still in the works, why the single board review? Reply
  • Etern205 - Sunday, September 23, 2007 - link

    In your test setup it says you guys used 2x2048 Corsair ram
    modules which equals to 4GB, but in those cpu-z screen shots
    it only show 2GB instead of 4. Is that right? Shouldn't it show
    4GB instead of 2?

    And the images do now work when users try to enlarge them.
    All I get is a server error.

    Thank you.
    Reply
  • wwswimming - Sunday, September 23, 2007 - link

    Foxconn has a boatload of experience manufacturing
    motherboards. up till now i've thought of them
    partially in terms of their "cheap specials at
    Fry's", kind of like ECS, where they sell the
    board-CPU combo for the price of the CPU.

    BUT i learned something new, 8 x 435 was it, 3.2
    + .24 + .040, (is my math right ?), 3.48 GHz for
    the Q6600.

    that plus the clean layout ... i like the
    North Bridge South Bridge heat sink design.
    plain old aluminum heat sinks work real well
    if you get enough inlet air to them, which is
    not hard to do. one heat pipe. not over-designed.
    Reply
  • Lord Evermore - Sunday, September 23, 2007 - link

    No mainboard costing 200 dollars can be called "budget". Under 75 is budget level. I hate having to even go to 125 to get a full-featured board instead of the exact same board costing 30 less but which is missing one crucial feature. Over 150, I want ALL the trimmings, and none of that "disables the x1 slots if you use Crossfire" crap. WTF is that?

    Mainboards are too damned expensive these days.
    Reply
  • emilyek - Saturday, September 22, 2007 - link

    Before this review, I had a pretty good idea where this board would fall in terms of performance. I've seen FOXCONN products here and elsewhere before.

    It made me want to ask: "Why are some motherboards better performers than others?" I mean, they use the same chipsets, right?

    What, specifically, is the reason that one company consistently falls a few paces behind others? It is board layout? Type of components used?

    Someone enlighten me.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 22, 2007 - link

    Board layout can impact things a bit, but mostly it's the BIOS and tuning - or lack thereof. Reply
  • lopri - Saturday, September 22, 2007 - link

    I noticed for this review that 2GB DIMMs were employed for total 4GB system memory, and there was no mention of overclocking/stability when all 4 DIMM slots were filled. I do not know whether the compared boards from other vendors were also equipped with 2x2GB DIMMs, but it does raise a few questions.

    1. From my experience (which means it may not be generalized), when memory capacity isn't a factor, 2GB sticks tend to show better performance than 1GB sticks if same number of slots are occupied. (all others being equal) I don't have an exact understanding on this but if this is indeed a case and other boards were tested with 4x1GB configuration, the performance results (especially synthetic ones) could be kinda skewed?

    2. Was the board able to maintain the same overclock/stability when all 4 slots were occupied? Again, from my experience Intel desktop MCHs (or maybe it's the boards/BIOSes) left quite a bit to be desired. I would like a little more detailed comments on this front.

    Excellent review as always. Thanks.
    Reply
  • lopri - Saturday, September 22, 2007 - link

    Oh and also there is the factor of interleaving when comparing 2 slots vs 4 slots. I do not know how much but I would think it matters when the performance varies by like 1% among different boards. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, September 22, 2007 - link

    I see they also implemented the Northbridge<->PWM section cooling with heatpipes. Recipe for hot PWM with an Overclocked 4 core CPU . . . and what the hell is up with all these hokey heatsink designs these companies are comming up with ? The BIOS monitoring application looks like something you would see on a 5 year olds lunch box as well.

    I would be more impressed if these companies would work on something functional, and quite this 'bling bling' look that makes their products look tacky. The ethernet performance is fairly impressive, but for this cost, with the stupid looking application/hokey heatsinks, and the fact that they cannot seem to get it into their heads that putting the PWM section, and the northbridge on the same heatpipe loop is not a good thing, I would not even consider this board.

    Another gripe is the JM eSATA port. IF they *need* to include an eSATA port, why not put in something that can actually fully supports FIS Port multiplier technology ?

    Anyhow, aside from the GbE performance, I think this board is a loser . . .
    Reply

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